Sunday, January 17, 2010

Making Sure She Has A Good Time, No Matter What

So now I’ve been on the ill-fated third date that preoccupied my thoughts all winter break. I initially had a somewhat doomed attitude about the idea of the third date, stemming from the fact that I basically stewed in my doubts about whether this was going to work or not for over a week in between dates. This was a violation Shidduch Rule #6never let over a week go by between dates, especially early on, unless there are unavoidable conflicts – it just isn’t good for the developing relationship. However, having spent a very nice, relaxing Shabbos with my distant relatives put me in a very positive mood, which helped me refocuse my mindset and allowed me to wholeheartedly go into the date without any expectations one way or the other – even half-hoping that my mental gymnastics had been entirely for naught and that things could turn out for the better.

Parenthetically, that #6 was entirely arbitrary, just for the record. I don’t have any formal set of “rules” that I abide by, in case you’re wondering. Any regulations that I do believe in are mostly common sense points like this notion regarding timing.

Unfortunately (or is that fortunately?), the issues that had planted the seeds of doubt in my mind were still very apparent, so I decided to end things here. She is really a lovely person who is very steeped in chesed and maintains close ties to her loving family (who are also very big chesed people). Not to mention the fact that she is rather attractive… The key issue was the intellectual thing I mentioned a few posts back. I don’t think it serves as a detriment to her personally, especially since she is a very serious student, but that component was entirely lacking in our conversation, which left me feeling very disconnected. I tried several times to bring up ideas that I figured would arouse interest that could lead to a deeper discussion, but she never took my lead, nor began any sort of conversational thread of her own of that sort. We just kept grinding to a halt, which then forced us to fish for random ideas to keep the dialogue going. It wasn't working at all...

Even though I sensed that this was going to be our last outing together fairly early on into the date, I still put on my best smile and tried to be as charming and witty as possible – just as I would on any other date. The goal was to make sure she had a pleasant experience, regardless of the possibility of a fourth date or not.

This is one of the main things that a rebbe of mine from my yeshiva in Israel stresses in his dating shiurim: the need to ensure that the girl has a good time, no matter what result comes from the date itself. This means that despite what your feelings are, or what number date it is, the guy is obligated to do his very best to make sure the girl enjoys herself and will walk away from the date with a positive impression of both the guy and dating in general.

I think people tend to get jaded with the whole shidduch process because they end up going on bad dates with people who misbehave; either in personal manners, or how they treat the person they’re with, or even their emotional expression (such as allowing facial contortions that clearly demonstrate that they’re bored or don’t like their date). If people (men and women) had a positive experience every time they went out, even if the date(s) end up being unproductive in the long run, I think their feelings of dissatisfaction with their dating lives would be somewhat lessened.

True, this doesn’t eliminate the repetitive, “here we go again” feeling that accompanies going on date after date with no result, but at least the dates themselves will be enjoyable. Also, you will have met another quality person out there in this sometimes (or is that always?) crazy dating world out there. Perhaps you’ll end up thinking about them as a potential match for a friend of yours, and your suggestion will lead to a happily married couple. As idealistic as that sounds, it does happen. Also, you would be far less likely to recommend a former date to a friend if the reason you ended things was due to how much they mistreated you or acted ungentlemanly/unladylike.

I think that one of the reasons why I’ve never had a bad date (and thus have no fun stories worth telling) is because I’ve done my best to take this lesson to heart. I often read/hear stories of guys being obnoxious on dates, and thereby making the girl suffer because of their uncouth behavior. I think that this idea that my rebbe presented should be stressed ad nauseum until every guy makes this a permanent part of their dating mindset. It really is that important.

This doesn’t preclude the idea of overly demanding, JAP-y female types causing problems, since I’ve heard about them as well. In stark contrast, the couple of girls who handed me a rejection when I was completely convinced there was going to be another date successfully acted on this notion. I had no clue what was coming, which did make the emotional impact a little more hurtful, but that early dismissal became the only negative thing I could remember about my time spent going out with them. I think that is a significant achievement.

I hope everyone who reads this will take the notion to heart – always be on your best behavior, smile, and turn on the charm, no matter what you’re thinking. The other person, who is an emotional, feeling human being (not to mention the fact that they had the decency to go out with you in the first place) deserves to have a pleasant date. If more and more people act on this principle, perhaps we can reduce the often overbearing frustration (even if ever-so-slightly) that so many people feel on their journey to find their spouse.


  1. Thank you for mentioning that. I tend to type my posts in Microsoft Word and then put them into the new post form - but it never lets me copy and paste. So I end up dragging and dropping the entire body of the post into the form box, which sometimes creates wacky results. I'm still trying to fix the font and size of the text...

  2. I don't think you should be obsessed with giving the girl a "good time" if you plan on saying no to her. You sort of mislead her to believe that you'll probably say yes and go out again, which is not the case. Anyway, I think we should have a new trend in shidduchim. Why is it that the guy and girl can't just be honest with each other by the third date. Face up to yourself and just tell her that you don't see it going anywhere. Instead, we beat around the bush and then let the shadchan do the dirty work...

  3. (not) The Girl Next Door - I didn't "plan" on saying no to her. I made that very clear - even if I felt like things were becoming clearer at the beginning of the date that I would say no to a fourth date, I waited to make a decision until after the date was over and I had time to think.

    I don't think I ever plan to say one "yes" or "no" before a date begins - every girl deserves my full attention and a chance to change my doubtful impression from a previous date - if things were so absolutely certain that I didn't feel that the relationship would work, I wouldn't have gone on another date in the first place - there must have been SOMETHING positive to make me want another date.

    If that's what you are referring to - going on an additional date out of pity, or whatever with a foregone conclusion in mind - I agree that is an insensitive and inconsiderate thing to do. That was NOT what happened this time. I was not misleading her in any way.

    And as a follow up to the post - she said the same thing to the shadchan as I did - she thought I was a great guy, but not for her.

    A third date is a bit too soon - or whenever a shadchan is still involved to do what you suggest. The point of having him/her serving as intermediary is to give the person a chance to save face. If the guy's message is "This isn't shayach" or whatever, she can respond to the shadchan that she felt the same way - even if she didn't really. That also spares her (or him) from being "pied in the face" with the rejection.

    Certainly if you're further on in the relationship and the shadchan is out of the picture (whether that is 4, 5, or 6 dates - or whatever number) - then of course the decent thing to do is explain things in person in a respectful fashion. The other person deserves it at that point - since you've established something more substantial.

    I don't think your 3rd date "honesty" policy is as applicable across the board as you think it is. You might feel connected to the person enough to be that open (and perhaps she would be ready to hear such a rejection face-to-face by the 3rd date as well) but I don't think the majority of daters would agree with you. Reread my "Rejection" post - the very fact that it wasn't in person very much lessened the impact it had on me. If she had said no point blank at the end of the second date, she would have created an extremely awkward and uncomfortable situation. I for one, can say I'm thankful that the shadchan gave me the message, in an honest, but considerate fashion.

  4. I apologize - I first misread your comment as being from "lawschooldrunk" (to whom I also owe an apology then for misattribution of views) hence the references to "she" in the last paragraph - it should read he/she.

  5. Okay, okay, you're one of the nice people out there. Seriously, you've never gone on a date knowing that you want to say no? There are times where I go out with a guy on a second date, yet I knew I wanted to say no before the date started. So why did I agree to a second date? Well um, maybe someone else did (I love you Mom), or maybe I agreed to a second date and then spent the night tossing and turning and realizing that the guy was not for me (too late).
    So maybe I was being slightly harsh to say that both sides should be honest on a third date. I just wish that I would be able to tell the guy myself why I don't think it's a good idea. Instead the shadchan probably makes up some excuse ("He thought you were beautiful, but too short," or "she's looking for someone with a plan.")I guess it's all part of our lovely dating game.

  6. First, I'm sorry if my response seemed a bit harsh in tone.

    Have there been dates where I had a premonition that I was going to say no to another date, or felt slight regret in accepting that date in the first place? Yes - including this most recent one, which was after a period of over a week of having my own frustration nagging at my mind (I don't claim to be perfect).

    But, I don't close the door on the possibility that my own impressions were mistaken for one reason or another, and then make the entire outing an exercise in showing my best poker face to hide the fact that I am completely uninterested in the person. I reserve the final call until after I can mull over the events of that date (along with the previous date(s)) and make a more educated conclusion in my mind.

    Like this past person - I was rather concerned by a few things she said on the second date regarding intellectual issues. I was a bit put off by a remark she made, which seemed uncharacteristic of the type of person I am looking for (it involved not really being interested in furthering intellectual growth (I'm leaving out some specifics here on purpose). Wanting to know more and learn as much as one can is important to me - but I was dan lekaf zechus that perhaps she wasn't that serious regarding what she said (the reference was a sort of side-comment in a conversation on a different topic).

    But, when I went into this final date with the idea of probing a bit deeper to try and see if I was mistaken, or she really meant that - it became clear she just wasn't into personal development when it comes to intellectual growth. As I mentioned, it really isn't a detriment to her per se, because she has a lot of really wonderful qualities (she is exceptionally in tune with chesed, beyond any other person I've ever gone out with - which is ingrained from her equally amazing parents). Many guys could care less if their wives want to talk about the most recent book they've read, or a deeper idea in hashkafa, but as I wrote in the intellectual post, I'm looking for something more.

    I hear a lot about people dealing with shady shadchanim, but I've only been set up by close friends - whom I trust to deliver an appropriate response when I tell them "no" for another date. Sometimes being utterly frank with someone isn't the best idea when it comes to their feelings. This is just like the fictionalized story that a dating mentor of mine told me:

    Imagine that a couple goes out on a date and the girl breaks things off at the end of the evening. When the surprised and dismayed guy prompts her for a reason, she simply responds: "Well, you're a nice guy and everything, but you have a lizard face, and it just freaks me out. So have a nice life, lizard face."

    Granted, this is an extreme, probably unrealistic story. Nevertheless, something said as an explanation for a refusal can hurt just as much. As Rav Goldvicht says in his annual dating shiur - if she says she doesn't want to go out with you anymore - that's it! She doesn't like you, so accept it. She doesn't have to explain WHY she doesn't want to go out anymore.

  7. continued...

    So I'm not sure why there is a real need to explain anything to the guy/girl. The only thing that comes to mind is that the issue is something that could potentially be fixed, and you want to point it out as a sort of mussar for them to improve themselves. However, if the issue is easy fixed, perhaps you should give him/her another chance, while mentioning to the shadchan to tell them that you are concerned about this one thing. If the area is an ingrained part of their personality (they're just really rude, or easily angered) and you can tell that it won't change - what's the point of saying something that will just offend them and not really produce beneficial self introspection and change?

    Telling them you're not interested is being honest. If you know that there is no real way it will work out, that's for you to know and for them to accept as reality.

  8. Oh, yeah, I have some stories. My favorite is when I was early in the process and ok, I shouldn't have been dating but, I did. I went out with this guy I met at a Conservative Shul. He said he worked with computers and I like computers and he liked me so, I figured I'd give him a chance.

    Within five minutes of the first date, I discovered he worked where I had been a secretary type in the IT department... -uh,oh- What floor did you work on? Dude, he worked on the production floor where the grunts worked. I guess this is why people shouldn't lie about their job.

    LATER on.... he was bragging to me about how he's a kohein and he TRAVELS to various minyans on Shabbos to help out with the minyan. I was thinking to myself, "I don't think they have a special need for a kohein on Shabbos" as my mind also processed something else....

    "You're a KOHEIN?!?!? You can't marry me, so why did you ask me out? Men only ask women out for two reasons: potential marriage partner and... " I looked horrified. In reality, I was enjoying this. He responded, "NO! NO! NO! I'm not like that! I'm a good guy... I wouldn't dare..." and I was still doing the horrified face. There was a Chasid at a nearby table (mashgiach?) he looked like he wanted to burst out laughing.

    And that was the end of that date....

  9. It's really nice that you try to give the girl a good time, but it's very difficult when that no is handed down.

    The first guy I dated wanted to marry me after our first date. I went out with him three more times, and there was a point on the fourth date where I knew it was a total nisht. Maybe it was because I couldn't look at him without holding my breath or squinting my eyes to make him better looking, or that I couldn't watch him eat, or that I finally realized that someone who is so brilliant, and intellectual can have such screwed up priorities and superiority over "regular" people.

    In anycase, I wanted to sorta get the message to him that it was over, in a nice way, just so he wouldnt be devastated later, but I couldn't and he was devestated (that' why I love the shidduch system, it's ok to be a coward and say no through someone else) and I heard back from a few people that I didn't even know we had in common, to reconsider, that he really liked me, etc.
    Maybe it would have been better to give him a bad date, give him a bad taste in his mouth, that I wasn't this perfect girl he'd pine over for quite a while (he's married now, btw)

    But as a side point. After I dated him I lowered intellectual on my priority scale. Sharing the same goals and values, being attractived to your potential spouse, it little more important in a marriage.
    When I was dating my husband, we had 2 great dates. Total fluff, and like you wrote, I wanted more. So on the third date I segued into more intellectual territory, and lucky me (not you) my husband picked up and followed through.

    He's not as intellectual as me, he doesn't run after and thrive on these discussion, he's rather take a little breather after learning a whole day, but can match me when I want the challenge and thats what counts...because your mother it right in a way, life is so busy, you dont really have time to sit down and have an intellectual discussion, for me, I just needed to know that if I wanted it, it would be there. and it is.

  10. Shades, I do not see how you insulted me, so don't worry. Even if you did insult me, don't worry: I have thick skin (which is why I would not mind if a girl told me she can't go out with me because I look like a lizard. I appreciate the upfront honesty.).

    Addressing "not the girl next door's" first post, I too, after hearing older sister horror stories, made up my mind to never be the guy with which any girl can say she had a horrible date. Is it misleading my date if I am the perfect gentleman and seem excited the whole date? I do not think so. You never know what can happen on a date that will turn it from a "no way" into a "wow, that was unexpected and I want to go out again." And it is totally disgusting to just "turn off" if you realize it isn't going anywhere. I've had girls "turn off" on me and it is unpolite.

    good post, shades, and long live the atypical gentlemen.

  11. lawschooldrunk - I'm glad to see that we agree - I think you understood my point the best of any commenter thus far.

    Based on the comments it would seem that this idea is viewed very differently based on gender. I'm not sure why the impression I'm getting from what female readers have written is that they want to somehow indicate DURING a date that they aren't interested.

    I still don't see why there is any reason to act differently, or convey negative feelings on the date itself, it's just not nice. If indeed there is going to be a negative response issued at any rate, why does indicating that through misbehavior while you're still in the person's presence beneficial to anyone? sporadicintelligence's lovestruck date was going to be hurt when he heard her rejection - and I think it's safe to safe kal v'chomer if she had said/done anything - or even worse - "pied" him in the face at the end of that date.

    From limited personal experience, I just don't think what the women are suggesting would work. One, while on a date, a girl started picking at her cuticles in the middle of a conversation (I was talking when she started doing this) and I definitely took it as a sign of disinterest (not to mention that I thought it was rather rude). I know I definitely need to work on picking up the more subtle hints that a date is reaching its time limit, but that was a little much. I left the date thinking that despite our earlier very pleasant conversation and good first date, that she was very much not interested - and yet, she said yes to a third date(!!!) - although she declined a fourth.

  12. Yeah, it boggles my mind how, in the middle of a date at i.e. starbucks, my date will clearly look at her watch every 15 minutes, constantly look everywhere around the shop but at me, and then say yes, before I say anything, to another date! What's up with that?!

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  14. Shades, this is a great post, which really shows your values. Kol hakavod.


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